Father in excellent home - family members not living close by

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My father has Alzheimers/Demential and we were fortunate to find an excellent veterans center where he has lived for about five years. They truly care about their residents and he has been very happy and content there. My sister lived less than an hour away from the center when we moved him there and saw him frequently. About 18 months ago her husband took a job half-way across the US. We have three other siblings that live 2-1/2 hours away from him and I also live 800 miles away.

Recently his physical and mental health has rapidly declined. He has started falling (5 times in 3 days) - is weak - can't communicate - has no interest in anything. The closest siblings are too far away to see him on a regular basis and the two of us that live great distances certainly can't.

Our dilemma is that we know it is a nightmare finding a good home with caring staff. We all feel very comfortable with this home on that front. They all knew him before he digressed and truly care.

What's more important? His comfort and care or our ability to be close enough to visit frequently? We are having a very difficult time knowing that no one is seeing him on a regular basis. It has become much more difficult as his ability to communicate has decreased to this level. Some say that moving him would be much more traumatic for him versus leaving him there where we are certain he well cared for. Is he better off where he is and we are being selfish to want him close or is it more important for us to see him regularly?

Please help me process these feelings as I truly do want what is best for him but I also have to live with myself and the decision we make.


I understand your dilemma even though I've never gone through such a thing. On one hand you want your dad to stay where he's at, knowing that he's getting such excellent care, but also want to be close to him. I guess if it were me, I'd have to ask myself which decision can I live with? He's probably getting to the point that he's going downhill and going to die right? Then will the guilt of not seeing him before he dies over rule the original decision as to where's he's at right now? Is it possible for you and your siblings to maybe rent an apartment close to the VA and take turns visiting your dad? Can you call the VA and ask if they have a room that's set aside for families to come and stay for longer periods of time? But I think it still comes down to the first question. What will you be able to live with after he's gone? Put your heads together and ask. I'm sorry about your dad.

He's stable and comfortable. Leave him where he is. And since you all can't see him as often as you'd like, how about each family taping a video (a happy one!) and sending it to him? The kids could also make "Get Well Soon" cards with bright colors. Don't forget pictures. You might not be there in the flesh, but he'll certainly feel your spiritual presence.

-- ED
Noone has addressed the falling issue yet. When I see 5 times in 3 days, then "Stable and comfortable" doesn't quite cut it.

That is because of quotes like this:

"The most common serious injury from falling is a hip fracture. More than 24 percent of all people suffering a hip fracture die within a year of falling, and another 50 percent never return to their prior level of mobility and independence."

IMO, prevention of more falling needs to be looked into ahead of everything else. Otherwise, the Russian Roulette continues.

It was a poor choice of words on my part, but what I meant was that he's better off where he is rather than live somewhere else where he's treated like horsehockey ... and still fall. I'm sure his caretakers are doing the best they can to keep him safe.

Now what about those videos?
I don't know about your siblings, but 2 1/2 hours is not very far to drive to reassure yourselves and your Dad (if he is aware). Could the 3 who are in the vicinity each take a weekend a month to go there? Could you plan a trip every 6 months?
You know, not all children have the same caring and conscientious feelings as we do, those of us who take the time to ask these questions and worry about it! I, myself, would not feel right being that far away.
Before my Mother's husband died in 08, I drove 6 hours 1 way every month to spend a long weekend with my Mother, making sure things were under control, and I had to beg and annoy his children to get some cg help in the house--2 of his three AC lived in town. All families and situations are different--amen?--so follow your gut, and discuss it with your sibs until you are sure. It's hard:) HUGS
I agree with Christina---2 and 1/2 hours doesn't sound like that much of a drive. ( These days you can listen to sirius radio or audio books from the library while you drive.) You could even drive over and back in one day if you needed to. Otherwise, you could find an affordable hotel to stay in for a night or two. Then you and your sibs could take turns visiting him. It does sound like your father is in a good place right now. If you were to end up moving your father to be close to one of you, then would the drive be farther for the other sibs (than what their drive is now)? I also like naheaton's idea of renting an apt. close by to your father. You could talk to some nurses or doctors familiar with your father's case and ask them for advice on this too. I'm sorry you are seeing your Dad decline.

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